Sunday, December 31, 2006

happy new year!

Going to take BART out to the city tonight, instead of driving. Much safer, quicker and cheaper on one of the busiest and dangerous night driving across the Bay Bridge.

Thanks for being part of my daily commute in 2006. Happy new year, everyone!

Ugh....back to work on Tuesday!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Done with work for the year, but not done with BART!

Tomorrow is our last day of work since the company shuts down the week between Xmas and New Year's Day. I'll be working from home tomorrow and have had my last BART ride to work of the year!

Thanks for hearing me vent about (and sometimes compliment) BART all year and thanks for all the comments, whether you are agreeing, disagreeing, or just writing me to tell me that I'm ridiulous :)

I'll likely have one more BART ride before the year is over....that is riding to Emerald Bowl (ATT Park) on 12/27 to watch my UCLA Bruins play against Florida St. Seminoles in a meaningless bowl game. I'll see if I encounter anything worth writing about there, like if some Florida native is holding up the BART doors for his/her family and delaying everyone's trip!

In case I don't write again before the new year (although it's likely I will since I am not leaving for vacation or anything)-- Happy holidays, everyone!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BART tickets? Not the worst gift!

I overheard someone say that the worst gift they've ever received for Xmas (secret santa) was a stash of BART tickets. I don't think it's that bad! I mean, you will always have a use for them, if not now...then later in life! Or, you can always sell them for a lower price? That's not a bad gift at all! Not the most exciting gift for sure, but very very practical!

You know what the worst is I've ever received? Actually, it wasn't just for me. It was for my husband and me together, which actually makes it WORSE! It was an extended family secret santa exchange. Keep that fact in mind because that's what also made this so terrible- you are giving a gift in front of all your relatives to another family member!! Pride and reputation is involved here.

Anyhow, we received a fake gold plated set of manicure set (gold clippers, gold tweezers...etc) with a dusty and yellowed plastic film over the instruments, inside a rubbery smelling fake leather zip-up pouch. The worst part was...inside one of the nail clippers was a nail clipping!!!

I don't know how this particular relative found (or dug up) this old manicure set from the 70s (judging by the yellowed plastic covering) but this was either an "innocent" re-gift, or a complete act of cheapness.

So, BART tickets for Xmas? I'll take that anytime over old gold nail clippers!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Carpet vs. plastic floors?

I've been wanting to discuss this topic for quite a few weeks now. BART announced that it plans to replace dirty train carpet with plastic, easy to clean floors? Good idea? I definitely think so!!

The carpet is so dirty that I really can't picture in my head what the color was like when it was new? Something blue-greenish I think? We often see gum, blood, coffee stains, fruit roll-up chunks, pen stains all over the carpet...plastice floors will be a welcomed change!

Of course, there will still be inconsiderate people who prefers to throw their gum on the plastic floors (they just need to be fined!), but this decision is already a huge step forward!

Read the article about BART flooring here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

5 more work days until time off!

These 5 days before the holidays are the best in terms of commuting to work. For those of us who still have to work these 5 days leading into the holidays, at least we get to enjoy lighter traffic, open seats on BART, more parking spaces at the stations and just fewer people in our way in general.

I also tend to be in an extra good mood during the week before Xmas; a lot more tolerant, a lot more sociable and a lot more considerate on BART :) Who knows, maybe I'll only have good things to write about next week on BART musings.

Hope you all are almost done with your holiday shopping! I'm only about 50% done and running out of ideas!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Smooth sailing today except...

Today's ride was actually enjoyable. No mishaps and early arrival. Best combination.

However, as soon as I took two steps out of the train upon my arrival, I heard a loud and vulgar sound. It was the sound of a man hurling and puking into the train tracks. After round one, he loudly cleaned out his stomach and throat yet again to let out another colorful pile onto the tracks. Juding by the volume, it seemed like he was in a lot of pain. But, after puking twice into the tracks, he grabbed his bag and walked on.

The sound is clearly engrained in my head still. At least 50 people heard and saw him. I bet I know what they're thinking of as they walked to work this morning.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rainy days are always bad days on BART

I can't even begin to discuss how many things went wrong today. I prepare myself for a bad BART ride everytime I see rain but today was beyond expectations. First, the estimated 5-7 minutes delay was actually more like 15-17 minutes. Of course, when the trains are THAT delayed, each train is packed to beyond maximum capacity. Wet umbrellas were sticking to me. There were passengers with luggage trying to squeeze on, but have no clue that they just landed their luggage on top of someone's foot. There are passengers who refuse to step out of the train for a moment to let other passengers get off at a stop. Then there are waiting passengers who insist on squeezing onto the train when there is evidently no room left.

I stood between two tourists with horrendously bad breath. They were probably just 4 inches away from my face. They kept on talking and talking. I wished I still had my cold so I didn't have to smell them anymore. Don't they smell each others' breath?? How could they stand it?
I turned my neck unnaturally to the left to try to get away from their I have a neck sore.

But this was not all. The delay caused me to miss two company shuttle pick-ups. I was about 7 minutes from the next pick-up so I thought I could treat myself to a hot cup of coffee at Starbucks. Usually, 3-5 minutes is enough time to get some coffee. But today, an idiotic cashier was working the lines...she was not only slow but messed up on people's orders. Then, they ran out of coffee! The cashier DIDN'T KNOW how to make a new fresh pot....and held up the line for about 3 minutes.

Finally, I looked out the STarbucks window and saw my shuttle pass by me. I thought I could still make it if I got my coffee right then! But of course...I didn't get it until 2 minutes later, and missed the shuttle.

Horrible start to the day.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sometimes we just need a reminder

This morning, instead of taking BART to SF, I felt the urge to drive and deal with the traffic. I got a hot cup of eggnog latte and was ready to face whatever condition of traffic on the Bay Bridge. For some reason, I didn't mind the traffic today. I am still a little under the weather and just preferred to sit still in my own car than dealing with people on BART.

Not only that, I just felt like thinking in silence today. A former co-worker of mine (James Kim) was found dead after 11 days missing in Oregon and although we had not spoken in nearly 3 years, his ordeal brought out a series of emotions in me, as it did to everyone. From shock, worry, optimism, sadness, to self-reflection, I was reminded again how vulnerable life is and how often we wrongly prioritize things in life.

Instead of focusing on the Bay Bridge traffic today, I decided to look around, enjoy the gorgeous Bay view and weather. It was like rediscovering just how beautiful the Bay Area is. I even had an appreciation for the progress on the new bridge construction as I examined the beams, rods, and new concrete. Of course I know this positivity will last forever (or past this week), but at least for today, I will not let little things like traffic delays or no parking irritate me.

I really have a great life and am truly lucky.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Attack of the birds

BART was 6 minutes late today and caused me to miss my shuttle pick-up. I had the wonderful opportunity to "sightsee" in the lovely Civic Center BART vicinity today.

First thing I saw was a homeless man peeing in the corner. Apparently he missed, peed on part of his sweats, and was cussing and screaming into the sky.

Second thing I saw was frightening. I don't like birds, especially if there are many of them together. I also don't like them to be too close to me (had a bad aviary incident in a zoo about 7 years ago). Someone dropped a large, whole chocolate chip cookie on the ground. This cookie was huge, about 4.5 inches wide, with lots of chocolate chips! This cookie probably fell 3 feet in front of me! Suddenly, pigeons and other birds from all over the area flew right in front of me and started fighting for the cookie. There were at least 50-60 birds of all sizes. They were all trying to get a piece of it. Those who couldn't get close enough to the cookie decided to peck each other to fight their way in. It was vicious and ruthless. They were pecking at each others' heads, wings...anything...just to get an inch or two closer to the cookie. After all that pecking, the cookie broke into 2 pieces. The birds then fought for positioning all over again.

I took a few steps back and just watched these birds feasting on this cookie. FINALLY, one bus pulled over to park...the birds realized they had to move, and all 50-60 of them just flew up, over my head. fear...I let out a quick squeal from the shock, but pretended nothing had happened to save face since there were several people near me.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm not acting

I don't know what happened or what I ate, but I woke up this morning feeling pains in my stomach and felt the constant urge to regurgitate (sorry!). I knew that BART would be a tough ride today. I saw an empty seat on the train, but it was a "handicapped" seat. I usually avoid taking those seats, but today, I actually felt like I needed to.

Mid-way through the ride, a woman in her late 40s maybe, tells me that she needs to sit down because she can't keep her balance. There were 3 men seated in the other handicapped seats- one overweight, one appeared to be asleep and the other is a senior. (Not trying to suggest anything here- that debate took place a few months ago, in a couple other blog entries). I guess I was the person most likely to give up my seat in this situation. But I really did not feel well. I continued to fight back any urge to throw up.

So, I told her nicely, "I'm sorry, I really don't feel well today, I need to sit down." She didn't buy it but before she can get mad at me, another male passenger a few feet away told her she can have his seat. Confrontation avoided. She sat over there and left me alone.

I just continued to close my eyes with my head back. No one else asked me to give up the seat. I made it OK to work, but now I have to deal with the rest of the day, hoping that this sickness or whatever it is will just go away!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Go ahead, ask me why I am sneezing and sniffling!

The ride to work this morning was painful. I was sniffling and sneezing nonstop. No, I do not have a cold. My nose and sense of smell was attacked by a man wearing way too much cologne. I wanted to change seats but there wasn't anywhere else to sit and with my heavy bag today, I didn't want to stand. The strong scent from the cologne was bothering me the entire time- it was absolutely overpowering. I first fought back the sneezes but it was almost like poison and within a minute or two, my nose and any sense of nasal control I had left completely gave in.

I sniffled and sneezed. This man kept on looking at me, seemingly annoyed that I was having nasal issues. His looks turned into impatient stares. I just stared at him back.


Because if he did, I would have LOVED to take that opportunity to be a bitch and tell him that his cologne stinks and putting on cologne does not a) attract dates, b) cover up any body odors, c) boost self confidence, and d) take place of showers.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Must be the "holiday spirit" ?!?

I don't know if it's because the holidays are coming up, and you see red, green, fake snow and lights everywhere, but something in the air is making BART passengers very social and friendly to each other. I've been seeing strangers striking up conversations randomly and talk the entire way through the ride...some even go as far as exchanging business cards!!

BART passengers generally try to avoid talking to each other. We usually bury our faces in reading material, sleep, or completely tune out to surrounding noises with music. It is quite rare to see someone say, "Oh! I like your phone! Where did you get it?" and start blabbering away from there on.

I have not yet sat next to someone who wanted to chat...I don't know if I want to. I love the holidays but when it comes to socializing early in the morning when I'm still sleepy, or socializing in the evening when I'm completely drained by work, I remain a Scrooge! However, in my defense, I will always be polite should someone talk to me!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Got so lucky today!

As lame as this sounds, what I'm about to describe is one of the most satisfying and gratifying moments I've experienced as a BART passenger. It doesn't happen often but when it does, I feel like I've won something huge or I've beat the system. I had no idea there was a bad BART delay today until after I got on the train. I drove to the station and parked my car like I normally would. Due to slightly lighter traffic, I got there a few minutes earlier than usual, leaving me about 8 minute before my train is scheduled to arrive. I thought, oh great, I'm too early, I'll now have to stand out in the freezing cold (32 degrees in Orinda) for waiting for the train.

Usually, when I have this much time left before my train, I take my time walking to the station and I stand on the escalators instead of walking up the steps. Today, because I was so cold, I thought maybe I'll just jog to get my body temperature up.

I ran to the station and as I inserted my ticket in the gate, I heard the train arrive. I thought it might have been the train going towards Pittsburg but I still ran up the stairs anyways. Lucky that I did because I barely made it onto the San Francisco train!! The next SF/Daily City train is 18 minutes behind!!!

Whew...I was pretty proud of myself. I felt like I stole one and got lucky. Otherwise, with the delay, I probably would have missed 2 shuttle pickups to work and not get in until 10am.

Maybe I should buy a lotto ticket??

Monday, November 27, 2006

The every-other-step rule

On the up-escalator today, a woman with a huge backpack violated the every-other step rule and almost caused a dangerous downward domino affect. She was clueless. She was SO fickle about where she wanted to stand on the escalator. She looked like she was about to take on the step that is two steps above mine but then suddenly changed her mind and just casually and cluelessly took one step down.

As she did that, her oversized backpack pushed my face! She had no clue! I lost my balance. I was tipping backwards. My torso leaned backwards unnaturally in a desperate attempt to hold my body upright without causing the passengers behind me to fall over. Luckily, the man in back of me saw what happened and anticipated that I would be stepping backwards to hold my balance. So, he stepped back, right when I suddenly placed one foot back to hold my body upright.

This woman had no clue what she did and just walked out of the station.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Stupidity or misinterpretation?

Ran into something outrageous today. I think this couple has never ever taken BART. They had 5 pieces of luggage with them and looked really winded in front of the station agent's window. I had some extra time so I wasn't running as usual...I slowly walked towards the the ticket gates and got a good portion of their conversation.

Apparently, they were very upset with the station agent and BART for some reason. I listened closely and found out that they were waiting by their parking space for over 20 minutes for the BART shuttle (first of all, no such thing) to pick them up from their space to bring them and their 5 pieces of luggage to the ticket gates. They saw the "County Connection" buses and mistaken them for BART parking shuttles. The couple said BART shouldn't have advertised that holiday travelers can park their long-term and take BART to the airport because long-term airport parking lots transport the patrons and their luggage.

I know how large and expansive some BART parking lots can be...especially for people with suitcases, but this is just plain stupid! Have they never taken BART? Do they actually think that BART cares about people's ability to carry 5 suitcases while walking a quarter mile to the platform?

Quite an entertaining little observation.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Driving on Empty

No BART for me today since I had to drive to San Jose for work. Traffic wasn't too terrible on 680 since a lot of people have already left for Thanksgiving. I was trying to make a 10am meeting and it was already past 9am. I needed every minute. My fuel level was probably at about 2 notches over the 1/4 mark when I left home this morning and I figured on a light traffic day, I should be able to make the roundtrip (120 miles) on over a quarter tank of gas left! HOW WRONG I WAS!

By the time I got to San Jose, a quarter tank was gone....the fuel was probably just 2 notches over "E" at this point. I knew that I would need to fill upfor sure before I reach Orinda, but I was hoping maybe I could fill up around San Ramon, or somewhere else off 680 that I am sort of familiar with and know it's safe to get gas. The gas stations near my San Jose freeway entrance are pretty shady and I've never had good experiences I try to avoid filling up there when I can. Besides, I wanted to beat rush hour yet again, every minute of headstart counts.

Within 3 miles on the freeway, the needle dropped to "E" for some reason. I knew I could still get at least 15-20 miles out of what is left of the tank so I kept on going. Well, around Sunol Grade/Sunol Pass, I started hearing loud airy pumping sounds whenever I stepped on the gas pedal. Whenever I stepped hard on the pedal, I noticed the car was not going faster. I took the nearest exit, hoping that there's a gas station....and to my dismay, there wasn't ANY in sight. I kept going, passing 3 lights. The car, at this point, was really not moving much anymore. Then I thought I saw a Chevron sign..I very slowly turned in but noticed it was a Speedy Oil Change with a "Chevron Lubricant" sign. Oh great...I thought....what the heck am I going to do?

The mechanics at Speedy Oil Change were nice enough to dump in some gasoline (from a huge 10 gallon tank) into my car, spilling gas everywhere. They also told me that the nearest gas station was 4 miles down and it would not have been good to get stuck on the street without gas since it wasn't the best neighborhood.

I guess I got pretty luck that I was able to land my car there. I made it to the gas station, filled up and drove back home.

This was the first time ever that I've ran out of gas. I usually am pretty careful about filling up before a long trip but today...I don't know what came over me. Glad things worked out OK.

Tomorrow...I'm happy to be back on BART!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's been awhile...

Wow, I think aside from vacations, this really is the longest lapse between posts. It's been one nutty week- on top of a very stressful week at work, I was also ill with bad food allergies.

The only noteworthy thing from BART this week was seeing fresh barf stains during one of my morning rides. It looked like someone make an effort to clean it, but there were still bits and pieces of particles left behind in addition to the big, heavy smear of residues. There was a faint but very recognizable lingering scent around the area. I was already feeling sick in my stomach from my food allergies and seeing and smellin the stain only made me sicker. I had to rub my hands with my coconut lotion and cover my nose with it to prevent myself from creating another stain for the rest of the passengers. I was glad to make it through the ride without causing a scene.

I'm looking forward to a light commute next week with many people taking the entire week of for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Good BART, bad shuttle

It's really been too good on BART this week. It's been on time, I get a seat the way there and back, and I haven't ran into anyone abnormal, inconsiderate, or annoying on the train. Wow!

On the other hand, it is my company shuttle that has been late and keeping me out in the cold, windy and VERY smelly corner of Market & 7th. With the extra minutes that I had around the Civic Center area, I got to do a lot more sightseeing. I saw a homeless man screaming **CK YOU at everyone who walked by him, a disoriented homeless woman wearing leotard, torn stockings and an old smelly jacket mumbling to herself, and another homeless man looking into the trashcan, throwing out items he didn't want to eat and stuffing the items he does want to eat into his mouth. Very sad observations...and they say homeless population in SF has declined?? Perhaps it has, but in the last few years, the homeless population in the Civic Center area seems to only have increased.

Anyhow, I hope the luck I've been having with BART continues! Hope I didn't jinx it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Performers at stations

Especially along the downtown SF exits, there are always performers inside the station, by the exit elevators. Whether it's a string quartet, gospel singer, saxaphone, harp, barbershop singers, mariachi or Chinese instrument, you always expect some form of entertainment when you exit one of the downtown stations.

I always wonder though, if they take a spot on a first come first serve basis. It seems like there is a different one each day of the week, but on a given Friday, or a Tuesday, you see the same performer.How do they work out the schedule, if there is one? Or is it truly just first come, first serve.

I also wonder how much they make? I think the good ones do pretty well! I've seen the same gospel singer many times and he is really good! I always give him a buck, and see many others open up their wallets. The mariachi guitarist is not very good at all. The mariachi guitarist is not very good- he cannot sing in tune- it might just be better if he sticks with guitar! His guitar case is always near empty, with a couple coins, and I've yet to see someone give him money.

What I don't understand is why a string quartet would sit inside the station to perform? Is it to practice? They can easily get at least $500 for playing an hour at a wedding. Do they need the spare change that badly for all 4 of them to get out there with a cello case open?

Well, for whatever reason, I think it's good that they're out there, making a few bucks, with their musical talent!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oh yes, it's Halloween!

I forgot it was Halloween today until I saw a man on BART putting on white paint on his face to finish his ghostly look. His hair was spiked with some red, blood-like streaks and he attached a fake ax on his head. He frightened me initially until I realized, oh yeah, it is Halloween!

You just don't see too many adults dressed in costumes at work anymore...although I did see a man dressed up in a large, full-on dinosaur or lizard costume at my work. A few people had shirts, wigs and buttons, but not a lot of costumes.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Update to "Parking Situation at Orinda"

Well, I got my answer to why all of a sudden the reserved lot was no longer "reserved". Apparently, they expanded the general parking area and downsized the reserved lot by 1/3. The agents have been passing out flyers the past 2 weeks but being in a rush as always, I never grabbed one. My fault, I suppose.

This is unfair! I pay a premium for a RESERVED space! Why do I now have to come in extremely early, a total inconvenience to my personal schedule, just so I have a space to park in? What is the point then of paying a premium for a reserved spot??? I have my own schedule, my own life. I don't want to have to adjust it just so I park at BART to get to work. That is why people have the option of paying for a reserved spot!

Parking situation at Orinda

I've been going to the same station and parking my car around the same vicinity of the parking lot for quite some time now and not sure what was happening today with the Orinda reserved parkingarea. Usually,at least 25-35% of spaces remain vacant when I get there. It takes me 10 seconds to pull into the lot, park and get out of my car.

Today, the entire reserved lot was full, in addition to the entire general lot! I arrived around the same time as usual! I didn't leave myself enough time to circle around the entire bart parking perimeter 3 times searching for a vacancy and as a result, I missed my train.

I ended up parking in the farthest corner of the reserved/fee area in a 3/4 space (where a SUV took 1/4 of my space). I hope this was just some one-day craze in the parking lot, otherwise, why did I bother paying $$ for a reserved permit??

Friday, October 27, 2006

Where is the CHP when you need them?

I drive down to San Jose for work meetings once a week or so and it is a break from BART despite the horrendous traffic and distance. These long drives down to San Jose make me appreciate BART and keep my insignificant complaints to a minimum!

One thing that always irritates me about driving is the lack of CHP presence when 75% of the cars in the carpool lanes aren't authorized to be in there! I've learned my lesson the hard way- over 8 years ago, I used to take the carpool lane on 880 south to skip through all the bumper to bumper traffic (this was before the dot-come bust). I knew the only way I'd stop is if I get caught. After 4 months of doing that, I got caught and paid the $270+ ticket. After that, I never did it again.

But every week, I see cars with single driver (and no hybrid carpool sticker) zipping past me at 70+ mph on 680 N in the evening, while I'm barely moving at 15mph at best (the really slow and bad stretch start around San Ramon all the way to the 24E on ramp) . Where is the CHP?? Why have I not seen anyone get pulled over yet? I'm sure CHP is around, but I want to see sirens go off in front of me...for my selfish reasons!

Sometimes I wish I had a device that makes the CHP siren sound and blast it whenever a single-driver car zips right by me in the carpool lane! It will make me feel better sitting in traffic if I can see their worried faces!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blind man aboard and no one gives up seat!

The way home was extremely packed today. A blind man walks into the train, and no one gave up their seat!! The two suited men in the immediate handicapped seats looked at the Treo and Blackberry, working away...purposely or not. Another young woman with a bunch of shopping bags just stared. Two other older passengers didn't get up either, maybe thinking they are entitled to the 'senior citizen' seats.

I was standing, waiting for someone to please just get up and not be so inconsiderate. The train started moving and the blind man was still standing..and wobbling. He grabbed a metal pole, tried to balance with his stick, and at that point, someone way in the back finally asked him to take his seat.

Yet another sighting of the lack of compassion and courtesy in our culture.

Luggage pieces taking up two seats!

In the 4-seat area today, I walked toward to what seemed like an empty seat, but realized soon that it had a piece of luggage on top of it with another piece leaning against it. And right across, the same situation: a luggage on top of it with two smaller bags leaning against the seat. In the other two seats of this quad area were two senior citizens obsiouvly going on vacation, judging by their visors and matching sweats. I wanted to ask them to remove the luggage but didn't because they were older, and there were A LOT of pieces of luggage altogether and I didn't feel like doing any heavylifting for them! I found a seat somewhere else.

Later, the train got more and more crowded, and people were eyeing those seats. Then, finally, someone spoke up. A female passenger asked the old couple to move their luggage. To my surprise, the husband said, "No, we can't move the luggage. We have fragile things in there." I think the female passenger was taken aback by his response and just rolled her eyes and left. That was one of the most selfish and irrational things (from the old couple) I've heard on BART.

I don't care how old they are- they can't justify putting their luggage over two seats! Fragile items??? Who cares? What makes their fragile items more special than someone else's?? If they were that worried about the fragile things inside the luggage, just stand then, and hold the luggage pieces upright! And how could fragile items break anyways when it is packed in such a LARGE-sized suitcase! They really do think they are more special than everyone else- and that makes me regret not saying anything to them just because I wanted to be respectful since they were old.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A compliment

Bear with me on this one. It's going to be hard describing what was going through my head. The ride home today was very crowded, more packed than usual. I'm guessing it partially had to do with the Oracle OpenWorld currently taking place in Downtown SF.

After going east in the Transbay Tube, no one got off at West Oakland. Then at the Oakland City Center station, quite a few people squeezed themsleves onto the trian, including an older man, appearing a little bit crippled and using a cane.

I didn't sit in one of the designated senior citizen or disabled seats, but I was just a row away from the train doors. I got up, asked the man if he would like to sit down, he kindly declined, I asked him again, and he explained that he had been sitting all day and that he'll be alright. I decided to respect his decision and sat back down (He later sat down in a senior seat after a passenger left at the next station).

A few moments later, a man dressed in a suit came up to me to tell me, "That was a really nice thing that you did, giving up your seat. You just don't see people doing that type of thing anymore." Since it was a crowded train, quite a few people heard. And whether true or not, it felt like there were people glancing at me for some sort of response. His compliment caught me by surprise- I didn't know how to respond. I studdered a bit, "oh, um, yeah, I felt it was something I should do." Let me tell you, however, what was going through my head at the point and after.

1) I don't always give up to everyone with gray hair. I've explained this in one of my first posts- I've had people (with gray hair) get mad at me for asking them if they need to sit down since they are not senior citizen age. However, I do give up my seat always (no matter where I am seated, like today, in a "regular" seat) for anyone who appears to be handicapped, pregnant, or a "true" senior citizen. So, his comment made me a little sheepish since I am not always so "noble".

2) I also felt weird that so many people were around while he said that. I didn't do it to get "attention". The worst part was, after that, at every stop, I felt obligated to give up my seat for anyone who looks like that might be around the 60+ age. I am not imagining this, but each time someone older walked in, I saw a couple people look at me to see if I will do something. Anyhow, I ended up just getting up and stood the rest of the ride. I rather not feel like I am "expected" to do the "right" thing.

Weird thought process, I know. You just have to be there to understand I guess. It's sad that giving up a seat to someone who is more in need has become such a rarity that it needs to draw attention. If you refer back to all the comments going back and forth in my previous posts about giving up your seat to the handicapped, seniors or pregnant women, you'll realize how selfish our society has become.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Smooth and on-time

This was the first week in a LONG time that my morning BART train was on time every single day! I didn't need to dash to beat the shuttle pick-up once this week!

What a rarity but I'll take it! I've forgotten what it felt like to not feel the constant stress of getting to Civic Center within a certain time so I don't miss the company shuttle. Usually, out of 5 days, BART is late once or twice, causing me to run like crazy up the two flights of excalators, then across the street, in time to wave down the shuttle as it departs. 50% of the time, I don't make it on!

Thanks for being ontime all week this week, BART. I hope this continues next week and beyond.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Human repellent

Somehow a homeless man got on the train and whoa, he carried a very pungent smell. The scent instantly permeated through the train and one by one, everyone seated near him quietly got up and walked to the other side of the train or to another car altogether. I was seated two rows from him. I tried to be brave about it and not let the scent get to me, but I couldn't do it after 2 minutes. I got up and slipped into a seat on the opposite of the trian. Many other passengers followed. Those who couldn't find a seat ended up standing on the other side of the train! Anything to get away from the smell.

After 3 stops, there were a bunch of empty seats around this homeless man. He didn't mind or notice. He was sound asleep with his feel hanging off the edge of the seat.

I'm not bashing on the homeless by any means! If they are paying to ride BART to go somewhere, then I think they definitely belong there, whether they smell or not. But if they are sleeping in a warm train, I think someone (train operator perhaps? or BART police?) needs to do something about it!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Should the homeless keep dogs?

I've seen this around the Civic Center BART station several times but today's observation triggered me to write this post. I've seen this at least 5 or 6 times now while waiting for the company shuttle at Market/8th a few homeless folks who have dog(s). These dogs are in horrible conditions. I saw one pit bull who have open cuts and sores on his body. In the past year, I've seen this other German shepherd that is so darn skinny that I can see his rib cage and rib definitions clearly. I've also seen a pair of dogs owned by a homeless man who not only have very dirty fur in poor condition but are muzzled everytime I see them (I know that doesn't mean they are always muzzled but the muzzle looks home-made and is way too tight!)

I am certain they love their dogs and really appreciate their companionship while everything else seems to go against them. I definitely understand the bond between humans and dogs-- I can't imagine life without mine.

However, if it is already so difficult for the homeless to feed themselves, wash themselves, keep themselves warm and healthy, I think it would be much better for both if they give up their pets to animal shelters or SPCA so the animals can receive regular meals, shots, flea control, baths, vet checkups and just a warm loving home.

I'm not sure if homeless shelters allow pets, my guess is no. I just feel that in this case, it would be better for the homeless to seek help in shelters or programs, and let the dogs heal in animal shelters and adoptive homes.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Smart train operator!

I thought the train operator this morning was pretty darn clever!! At every single stop, she announces, (not in exact words) "The designated seats by the doors are reserved for the elderly and disabled. If you are seated, please give your seats up to the any elderly and disabled passengers around you."

Because she so loudly broadcasted this message, everyone immediately looked at the people who were seated in the area. Any non-elderly and non-disabled passengers seated there, due to the attention focused on them, reluctantly got up and ask anyone who appeared to be a senior citizen to take their seats instead. It was quite funny. No one wanted to sit there anymore except for the elderly (there were no handicapped passengers around). Once an elderly person exits the train, the seat remains empty until someone new comes in and unknowingly sits down. They immediately get up again, however, once they hear the train operator's message.

The train was fairly full, with people standing. But still, because of this loud and clear message, passengers, for the first time I've seen, have been overly considerate about giving up the reserved seats to elderly and disabled.

Good going, train operator!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Putting small amount tickets to good use!

I may be the last BART commuter to learn about this, but better late than never! For quite some time, I've seen the scrolling screens on the platforms mentioning organizations that take unused small amount tickets as donation, but have not remembered to look into it further. I've been saving my small amount tickets for a long time in an envelope and I would guess, by now, they add up to over $50. BART stores don't take these small amount tickets (under a certain amount, I forgot exactly how much) and I just didn't take the time find out what else I needed to do to turn that change into a larger amount ticket. Thus, the tickets have just been sitting there in my drawer.

Today, I was reminded again by the scrolling bulletin about donating small amount tickets to organizations. I researched on the Internet and learned that there are actually quite a few places that take small amount tickets as donation. For example, Project Second Chance, Homeless Prenatal Program, Genard AIDS Foundation to name a few.

I'm sure many of you already knew about this and have been donating for years, but I'm glad that I finally learned of it and can put the huge stack of unused small amount tickets to good use.

If this is the first time you've heard of it, better late than never!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Not about BART, but equally worthy of a rant

Usually, when you call to activate a credit card, you are punching in numbers from your home phone in response to an automated system. Short, simple and hassle-free. However, today, I had to activate a renewed Citi card and to my dismay, I got a LIVE operator after punching in my 16 digit number. I had to experience this once with another card activation and I knew what I was about to face.

This live operator confirmed my ID and began selling me services. The first sell was the credit protection program. I got suckered into this free trial 2 years ago with that other live activation, and ended paying for it for a month before I had the chance to cancel by phone (which by the way, was a very un-userfriendly procedure by design). Before this operator started to read off the information, I said, no, I'm not interested. He then said, but this is free for 2 weeks with no obligation. I said no, I've tried it before, I do not want it. He pushed further by telling me that this is very beneficial and even if I do not like it, I can cancel but keep the free credit report. I said, I know my credit report and have access to it easily. He ignored me and read of the entire 45 seconds worth of description and concluded, "Would you like to enroll in this free trial?" I said for the 4th time, NO! this a timeshare presentation??? Goodness!

It's not over!! Then he started to sell me the theft protection program. Before he even started with his mandatory language, I interrupted forcefully with "No, thank you. I am not interested in anything today." He then said, "I respect your decision" and moved on to say good-bye.

CitiCards really shouldn't be forcing us to talk with a live person like this! Activation is supposed to just be simple and take 10 seconds. This is trapping us! If it weren't for the nice point system I've already established with this program, I would have cut the card up just for putting me through this.

I needed to rant! Thanks for reading :)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Litterbugs on BART

Here's another reason why I don't like sitting by the window, if I had the choice to not. This morning, in a crowded train, I sat in the window seat. I noticed some gum wrappers on the floor, but no big deal, I sat down on the seat. Then, as I settled in, I noticed the sliver of space between the seat and window had a large medley of trash stuffed in there. I was grossed out, but for some reason, I felt the urge to look what people were stuffing in there. I saw individual-sized Doritos bag, straw wrapper, Saran wrap, portions of a mini-donuts plastic wrapper, and a Peet's napkin. Impressive amount of trash for a small space.

Of course it doesn't surprise me that there are inconsiderate passengers on BART. Personally, I don't EAT or DRINK on BART, since that's the rule anyways. But if you choose to sneak a few bites of breakfast or snack, please have the courtesy to pick up after yourself and not leave trash on the seats, or even STUPIDLY trying to hide the trash by stuffing it in between empty spaces.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I'll read what you read

A fairly relaxing ride to SF today.....except the man next to me was reading my Frontgate catelog along with me today during the entire ride.

I didn't have magazines left to read since it's Friday and I've finished my weekly issues. I grabbed the Frontgate catelog last minute to research Xmas decorations and Xmas gift ideas! Frontgate is cool! There are always tons of neat things in there. Maybe that is why the man seated next to me couldn't resist stretching his neck over to my side to check out the gadgets on each page. His head was about 6 inches next to mine, at a 45 degree angle towards the catalog.

I just pretended I didn't notice that we were sharing reading materials. But then, he commented, "My father in law has this watch and he likes it a lot." I answered, "Oh, cool."

I guess he didn't want to keep it a secret that he was looking at the catalog too and preferred to have a conversation over the products. I wasn't in a talking mood. So I nicely asked if he wanted to look at it while I took a nap before "a long day of work". He declined and I spent the rest of the ride (just a few more minutes left at this point) with my eyes closed.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Example of a BART rule breaker

I saw a woman today who had broken most of the BART rules and etiquettes that I am aware of in the short 30 minutes that I had observed her from afar.

First, she stood on the left side of the escalator while blocking the right side with her bags. Then, she sat in the handicapped reserved seats as several elderly passengers were walking in. Later, she took her boots off and stretched her legs out while blocking substantial standing room. After that, she took out a croissant with egg and cheese from her bag and a jug of beverage and enjoyed her breakfast during the ride. Finally, she almost blocked a door from closing because she was still putting her boots back on as people were exiting.

I guess when someone has total disregard for rules and etiquette, they really just don't care.

But at least she paid a ticket to get in instead of walking through the side doors! That's something!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Passing on BART etiquette to the next generation

I saw something very cute today. I saw parents teaching their kids basic BART station etiquette. A man and a woman, brought 3 little ones with them to the BART station. After getting everyone's tickets, the kids immediately ran to the ticket entry, occupying 3 different entry gates. The parents told the kids they should line up one by one, in front of one entry gate, to let others use the others. The kids listened, formed a little line, and got through one by one through the right entry gate.

At the escalator, the parents told the kids that they should all line up on the right side and hold hands while letting other people pass on the left. It was very cute. The kids listened and held each other's hands, while scooting to the right to let others walk up the escalators.

It was very adorable. Also, it was great to see parents teaching the little ones to be considerate of others. I've seen many instances where kids clog up the entrance and escalators while the parents just let them. It's not a big deal at all, I mean, they are kids and don't know any better, but it's refreshing to see parents who care enough to teach the kids etiquette, even at such a young age.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Unique but dangerous talent

I drove today. It was a long miserable drive. Although, one interesting thing happened. I saw a man steering with his left foot. No, not his knees, but his foot. The left foot was raised up and grasping onto the steering wheel. His hands were occupied-- he was eating a burger or something.

That's quite a unique skill, although extremely irresponsible and dangerous. I wonder how often he does that and how a CHP officer would respond to that sight!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's a conversation between A and B...

I sat next to a friendly blind man today who really wanted to talk during the ride from SF to East Bay. We chatted sporadically about BART's accessibility for the blind (to that, he says BART is not bad but it is important for the station agents and the train operators to speak loudly, slowly and clearly), his desire to find a job, and how he became independent as a blind. I found his independence and self-sufficiency very impressive. During our chat, the train operator announced, "We have been asked to be on a holding pattern. We will be moving in just a moment." Everyone sighed and whined.

The blind man said half sarcastically, "Oh great, just what we need, another delay. Always happens to me." At this moment, the train air system shuts down. The man said, "Great, now the engine shuts down. We are going to be stuck here for some time." He chuckled and shook his head. I didn't think anything of it and just responded, "Gosh, I hope not."

At this time, a random woman sitting across from us yells at him impatiently, "It's not the engine. There is no engine on BART. There is no motor on BART! We are not going to be stuck here. There is not need to panic and exaggerate and make everyone miserable!!!"

What the heck is her problem? No one asked her for opinion. No one asked her to listen or butt in our conversation! There are at least 50 others within a distance that could hear what we are saying but no one else complained. What is her issue? I didn't say anything back to her. The blind man didn't do anything either. I just looked at her with one raised eyebrow.

The train started moving after 3 minutes on hold. Still, who asked for her opinion? We can say whatever we's not like his statement was that far from the truth!

Monday, September 25, 2006

First time ever that I could not squeeze myself onto a crowded train

There was a bad delay this morning getting into the city. I haven't researched why exactly yet but it must have been a seriously long delay because I have never experienced overcrowdedness like this before on BART. And that is a pretty bold statement.

Usually, in ordinary 15+ min delay situations, when there is an overly packed train (so packed that there is no standing room left and any standing passengers squeezing in are barely inside the train), I have no problems sneaking myself in there. I'm fairly thin, average height, and very considerate with my computer bag placement, so I don't take up much room. People aren't happy to accommodate me in the crowded train, but after realizing that I don't really take that much space up from them, they 'welcome' me in.

TODAY, HOWEVER, was a totally different story!! Whatever caused the delay really made quite a lasting negative impact. I was unable to get on three consecutive trains that passed my station!!! I looked for an angle to try to position myself in there but there really was no room left for me to set foot in there!! Every single train that arrived at Orinda was already so packed that once the door opens, passengers inside the trains are falling out. No one could get on! There just isn't room left to even put HALF a body in there!!!

I even ran all the way down to the first cart to see if there was standing room there, but even in the first car, it was packed to maximum maximum capacity. I don't think you can even fit a dog or a carry-on bag in there. It was that bad!

After waiting for three trains and still could not get on, I was fed up! I had missed my company shuttle pick-ups and still, I don't even know how the heck I was going into SF. I certainly did not want to pay for taxi again just to bring me to work from Civic Center.

So, I made the decision to drive. It was pretty miserable, but it probably saved me from a even more miserable BART ride into the city.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Criteria for choosing an open seat on BART

Blogger/Commenter Concord Commuter made a VERY INTERESTING point in the comment section. The comment says...

I have often wondered what criteria people choose when selecting which row of seats to share, as often I will see people zero in on a particular spot. I don't really have a criteria, I just go to the first available seat that is not immediately near the doors.

This comment got me thinking a little bit about just how people choose seats. To me, it's an intricate thought process that must take place within 3 seconds or less!! Call me weird but choosing the best BART seat takes experience: one gets better at picking the best seat faster after years of riding BART!

This is how I do it. I take my first glance at the "seat situation" as the train arrives. I look closely through the window as the train slows down at the station to see if there are any empty spaces between heads. Then I keep track of which side of my particular cart has more empty spaces and position my body to walk into the train that way. As I approach the emtpy seats, I try to quickly evaluate the "quality" of the passenger I would be seated next to. By quality, I purely mean cleanliness, size and general physical and mental health. The next evaluation is aisle seat availability- I prefer these seats over window seats- I need my space, what can I say? Then, if there is time and choice left, I pick the available aisle seat that have cleaner upholstery.

I do all that within 3 seconds of walking into the train. It's become second nature. This usually only happens if I leave work around 4pm and get on the train from Civic Center (where the train isn't as packed yet.) In other occasions, I am lucky if I get a seat. But sometimes, standing is much better than sitting next to someone with undesirable qualities.

Cold germs all over me

I sat in the window seat this morning, next to a middle-aged woman who appeared very ill. Her nose was red and she even carried a box of Kleenex. I was already a little concerned at this point that I will catch whatever she has since I haven't been feeling 100% this week already. The ride ended up being a long and dangerous ride....she was coughing nonstop, not the light cough but the thick, deep, painful coughs where you can hear the phlegm shifting inside her throat and lung. She was also sniffling, sucking in her nasal fluids and sneezing. She blew her nose constantly and compiled the used germ-filled tissues on her lap.

I was extremely intense during the ride. I tried to "protect" myself with my BusinessWeek copy covering my face. But I realized that it was inevitable that I was breathing in her germs since I could feel the air from her cough and blowing.

With a busy day and weekend ahead, I am determined to not get sick. I took out my bottle of Purell and wiped it all over my hands. But then I realized.....wait, her germs are all over my body...from my face to arms. I can't be wiping Purell on my neck and face too. I decided at that point there is nothing I can really do but to take lots of Vitamin-C supplements to fight off the cold bug.

Sometimes I hope that people who are that ill should really take it easy and not force themselves to come to work, or opt to work from home. However, I know that is easier said than done. Needless to say, today's ride was high-risk. I hope I do not get sick!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Found another inconsiderate behavior on BART

The list of inconsiderate behavior seems endless! There is a new 'first' every week! Today, for the first time, I saw a woman brushing her long, mid-back lengthed fuzzy hair, combing through the hair knots, pulling out the loose hairs and putting them on the floor, and picking out the hairs stuck between her brush and dumping the hairballs on the train floors. Because of the static electricity on the train, her loose hairs somehow stuck onto the pants of the man sitting next to her. He had the newspaper opened and did not realize that his black pants are now accessorized with light brown hairballs and loose long hairs. I wonder what his wife will say??

Quickly combing through hair is OK in my opinion, but not picking through the hair knots and cleaning your brush! People should really keep self-grooming to a minimum on BART and wake up earlier to do your makeup, hair, nails at home!!!

On a totally separate note, I saw the office janitor (who does a superb job keeping everything spotless and smelling like Mr. Clean) today spraying Lysol bathroom cleaning spray on the drinking fountains!! Not that people use drinking fountains much these days, but that sort of shocked me a bit. Are people drinking in Lysol chemicals and not knowing it? Yikes!

Friday, September 15, 2006

When did speaking up for yourself become a bad thing?

I witnessed something on BART today that reinforced my belief that there are more BART passengers without manners than those who have manners.

This altercation took place between 2 passengers both seated within the quad-seats (the four seats that face each other) area. An older woman was reading the newspaper on one side. Right across from her was a college-age woman placing her feet and stretching legs on the seat directly across from her. Her feet ended up being right next to the older woman.

The older woman said: Can you not put your feet on these seats?

Younger woman took her feet off and gave her a dirty look.
10 seconds later, her feet were back on.

The older woman said: Don't you realize people sit on these seats? Not to mention they are right next to me.

Younger woman said: I am aware of that. (But did nothing).

Older woman got up for her exit and said to her: At least put your feet on these newspaper for the next person's sake. (She shook her head and left).

After the older woman got up, all the surrounding passengers were making dirty looks at her, snickering, saying that she's a bitch and is having a bad day..and taking the young woman's side!

I was appalled. I got up and said to the older woman, "I'm glad you said something. Someone needed to tell her!" and got off with her at the Civic Center Station.

I'm sure people were saying things about me too afterwards but geez, when did it become a bad thing to ask someone else to be considerate and not put their feet up!?!?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Smile, you're on the newspaper....

I saw a photographer inside my BART train today (with a press badge, or at least something official looking around his neck). He was just snapping away nonstop. He took photos from all angles imaginable with passengers in them.

I made an effort to cover my face with a magazine. Why you ask? For one, I do not even know what type of article this is for...what if it is an article that talks about BART passenger satisfaction rating at a decade-high? I don't want to be the face associated with being a satisfied customer. You get my point? Secondly, I am tired and slightly grumpy in the mornings. The last thing I am looking forward to is a snappy photographer taking close-ups of me and the passengers around me. I do not want to be surprised with a photo of me in tomorrow's paper. Especially if it's a bad photo of me, I do not want it to be circulating without my permission.

Some people may really want to be in these random BART photos, but not me. They should ask willing passengers to do a casual pose instead of just snapping away at everyone! I know that is too complicated and they'll never take that approach, so I'll just continue to hold my magazine or book up high when I see a press photographer snapping away.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Feet among many other sources of germs on BART

I know that there are many other sources of germs on BART, but there is just something about seeing someone taking their shoes off, exposing their feet and toes, stretching the toes, folding their barefeet up on the seat, resting their barefeet against the seat in front and hanging their nasty feet off the edge and blocking 50% of the aisle. But the worst, the worst feet offense of all is when they accidentally touch you with their toes or their feet is pressed against your thigh because it's up on the seat. Luckily, I've yet to experience that. But oh my lord, if anyone ever did that to me, I will cause a scene.

Is it so hard to keep your shoes on while on BART? If you must take your shoes off, why can't you just leave your feet down where they should be?

Isn't BART dirty enough? Must passenger now have to deal with the sight of feet within their view too??

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering September 11th

I did not ride BART on the morning of 9-11-01. I was in Los Angeles that morning and happened to sleep in late. My mother called me around 8am screaming, "the world is coming to an end." My mom tends to be overly emotional and dramatic, so I asked her to calm down and tell me what is going on. After I turned on the TV, I realized that the way we live is going to change forever from that day on. I didn't know anyone who was killed by the terrorist plots, but I too feel their sadness, disbelief and frustration.

Can someone tell me what happened on BART that day? Was service halted?

On this 5th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, BART announces plans to hire an anti-terror chief. As long as the use resources allocated to us by the state and federal governments from the Homeland Security funds (instead of raising our fares), I think it is smart to be proactive. It is naive for us to think that we, Bay Area residents, are not in danger and are not terrorist targets. Of course we should not live in fear, but there are numerous things BART can still do to make the system safer and more secure.

I give my thoughts to the families of the innocent victims of the 9-11 attacks, and my appreciation and respect to the heroes of 9-11 and after.

It's about time!

BART is finally making a big effort to lessen the ear-pinching screeching on the tracks. I often see senior citizens with hearing aids, covering their ears in agony, or kids screaming to express their misery from the high-pitched and rough grinding of the train tracks. Residences along BART tracks will greatly appreciate this too.

Funny that right after this article was written, I experienced my worst track screeching to date. This morning, the screeching in the transbay tube was bad enough that I felt a vibrating pulse from my eardrum which felt like it shot up to my brain. Time for an improvement for sure!

Take a look at this article written by Rachel Gordon of SF Chronicle

Friday, September 08, 2006

Onboard entertainment - Part II

Just a quick update- the same train operator sang the exact same songs today at each of the SF downtown stops. I wasn't as annoyed today, maybe because it's Friday and we're all generally in a better mood, or because I had a chance to vent about it today, or perhaps I'm used to the songs now that they just didn't affect me anymore.

She should change around her songs eventually however, if she's going to keep up with the onboard entertainment :)

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mad for fuschia

Fashion sense is in the eye of the beholder. I'm not judging anyone...just sharing an observation. I never thought I would see so much fuschia on a person. Now, picture this in your mind.

A woman in her late-40s immediately drew my attention as she walked onto the train. She was very brightly colored and probably made most passengers look twice.

She had a fuschia tank top and a fushia skirt with white stripes. She wore fushia colored nail polish with fuschia sandals. She also had a fuschia scrunchy tying up her poofy layered hair. She accessorized with fuschia bracelets and fuschia earrings. Her lipstick and blush color? You got it, fuschia and fuschia. Eye shadow? Ha, gotcha, that was actually light blue. Needless to say, her purse was fuschia too.

I then noticed that her bra strap was also fuschia. Talk about color coordinated!! I wonder if this color coordination is only for fuschia, or if she had a blue outfit on, everything will be in blue instead?

More power to her for dressing the way she pleases!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Obsessive or just plain inconsiderate?

Last night, on a very crowded train back to the East Bay, I sat next to a woman with two Chinese take-out boxes wrapped in a plastic bag. The smell instantly permeated through the train. As you know, the smell of food in train, no matter what it is, mixed in with the dirty and musty scent of the train, just stinks. Because I was sitting right next to this woman and her food, the scent was overpowering. The odor was on me, my clothes, my hair, my bag and in the air I breath in.

But that is not it! People bringing food onto trains is very common (not worthy of an online rant). But what made this woman worse was the fact that every 2-3 minutes, and after every stop, she unwraps her white plastic bag, opens up the take-out boxes, looks quickly at the food for a second, and closes it back up, and re-wraps the plastic bag. Every few minutes, she repeats this the bag, open th boxes, look at the food and close it back up.

What does she think is going to happen to the food? Was she checking the temperature? What is going to change in 2-3 minutes? Does she think there's someone invisible eating her Chinese food away?? Was she considering taking a piece out because she couldn't wait? What is her deal???

Whatever her reason was, I didn't care! Everyone had to smell the food again and again just because of her freakishly obsessive habit or her extreme hunger. You can see people cringe each time she opened up the boxes! The more I smelled the food, the sicker I felt. I decided to give up my seat so someone else can deal with the woman and her take-out. I then stood next to the train door so that at the next stop, I can sneak in a quick breath of fresh air finally.

It's bad enough that people do not follow the "NO FOOD OR DRINKS" sign (separate topic but it says no food or drink, not no eating or drinking, so to me, that means you shouldn't even bring food onto the train, although in a past blog, people have disagreed with me), but to open up the food and let the smell leak through the entire train is really inconsiderate.

Which part of "get in line" do you not understand?

This morning, one woman was so blatantly cutting in front of me that I just had to say something. Usually, cutters like to swoop in from the side as the door opens...I generally just sense where they're swooping in from and block their way by swaying my body and work bag from left to right.

However, this woman was ridiculously rude. I was the first in line at this particular boarding zone (the black paint area along the yellow strip on the boarding platform), and standing behind the yellow paint like we are supposed to do. I was no more than two inches behind the yellow zone and this woman walks up the stairs, looks around and stands IN FRONT of me right ON TOP of the black paint boarding area. Aside from the fact that is dangerously close to the train tracks, she pretty much shoved herself in front of me in such an uncomfortably close distance as if she's doing that just to push me back.

I stood next to her to see what she would do. She just pretended she didn't see me and moved forward a couple steps more....she was 3 inches from the train tracks!

I had to say something-- she was being ridiculous! By then, there were other people lining up behind me. I decided to say, "Excuse me, can you get in line?"

She gave me a very dirty look and grabbed her bags and went to the back of the line. But the story does not end here!!! When the train came, the door opened, she cut across everyone else in line and walked in front of me. I just could not let this go- what the hell did she think she was doing? She had to get a seat that bad??? I walked even faster into the train and cut her off. There were two seats left- I took one, and another woman took the other as this rude cutting woman was too late in her effort to grab the other empty seat after I took "hers".

Ridiculous and petty little story...I know...but people are so petty and rude sometimes that you just have to fight back and let them get a taste of their own medicine.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

BART's tendency to under-estimate delay time

There were delays this morning for all trains heading to SF. Official BART announcements repeated said to expect a 10-15 minute delay, but I knew that is too good to be true. As it turns out, the delay was more like 20-25 minutes for my train. I was too tired to care...besides, by being just over 5 minutes late, I was already going to miss my company shuttle anyways.

By the time my train arrived at Civic Center, 23 minutes later, I had only 1.5 minute to catch the next arriving shuttle. I didn't have flats on today, and instead wore these slight heels that weren't the easiest for running up the stairs. I knew to make it up to the shuttle pick-up in time would be a near-impossible task. I turned up the volume on my iPod, tuned into a song with a very ast dance beat as motivational, and dashed as quickly as I could. Luckily, I pulled up right before the shuttle driver closed the doors.

Why does BART always tend to under-estimate the delay time? I've come to expect it...but why do they do it? To give us a false sense of hope and impression of near on-time arrival?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Some thoughts about commuters using Senior Citizen or Child tickets

This topic came to mind because a friend of mine mentioned that his coworker, an able-bodies 35-40 year old, has no shame whatsoever using a disabled person's or child's ticket on BART!! This coworker of his says he finds that easy to do because station agents don't check or look his way as he enters.

I've seen people around my age with colorful, orange, red...etc. For the longest time, I didn't actually take the time to read on the website or booklet what the different colors meant, and assumed that maybe they had discounted tickets because their relatives work at BART. When I finally did one day (read the booklet since I was out of reading material and was desperate for something to entertain myself), I started noticing that people who shouldn't be using a senior or child ticket, are using it. **Some had a disabled ticket, but I don't want to judge whether they are cheating or not just because I can't see an apparent diability**

Personally, I'd be embarrassed and quite ashamed to whip out a discounted ticket that I am not entitled to. I think most people would feel the same way. But there just are passengers who don't give a **** what people think...they walk through the side doors, they use discounted tickets, they park in handicapped spots without a placard (at least they get a ticket for that). Some people would throw away self-respect and dignity for a little discount.

I know it is impossible for station agents to be looking at colors of tickets even if they do decide to look up and around every once in awhile, but I can't help but think if they did look towards the direction of the ticket gates a bit more, would it help lessen the number of people who illegally use discounted tickets or even the number of people who walk through the side doors?

But this is really a problem with self-respect, dignity and upbringing- there will always be people who will defy the rules to get a little something for themselves. Even if BART station agents always paid attention to what is in front of them, these people will find another way to cheat.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Overboard with onboard entertainment

I know I've discussed this several times before, but today, this train operator took it overboard and beyond the tolerance limit. She's a happy person, I get it...we all get it, but exuding cheerfulness when announcing stations is one thing, but singing at every SF stop is totally another. To me, that is WAY TOO MUCH, especially most of us I bet are not nearly as cheery as she is about heading to a busy day in the office.

From East Bay all the way to SF, she was tolerable. She was happy and constantly told us to sit back or stand back and enjoy the bay, while announcing weather every so often. That is acceptable, though still on the annoying side to me personally.

Things started to get worse once we headed into the Transbay Tube.

She says....hang on we go across the bay by the city to the city by the bay.
At Embarcadero she sings, "Hi ho, Hi ho, it's Embarcadero station we go!" or something similar.
At Montgomery she sings, "Yo ho, Yo ho, it's Montgomery station for me!"
At Powell she sings, "It's a small street after all, it's a small street after all, it's a small street after all, it's POWELL street."

I missed her song at Civic Center because I was smack against the door ready to POP OUT OF THERE! Now I wished I had listened so I can share it here...but if someone out there heard it, please post it in the comments board! I'd like to know how far she went down to the SF stations.

I asked one of my coworkers what she thought of the singing...she thought it was annoying beyond belief too!!

We understand that she is cheerful- nothing wrong with that- but it's just too much to shove the songs and jokes down our throats early in the morning. Oh big deal....just had to rant!

Monday, August 28, 2006

You will not believe me but...

I saw a homeless man standing very close to a Civic Center BART station exit escalator. He was looking down while standing straight and still. As tired as I was Monday morning, it took me a little longer than usual to realize what he was doing. He was peeing into the outside corner of escalator exit. I figured that out after I got to the top of the escalator and saw a moving body of yellowish fluid flowing from the top down. Apparently, the pee waterfall was caused by the overflow from his corner.

I'm used to jumping over pee puddles around the Civic Center station, but never moving fluid on an escalator in motion. There's a first for everything I guess. Nothing surprises me at the CC Bart Station!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Another person under train? What is going on?

After the two suicides (one dead, one injured) on Tuesday, I couldn't believe there was another under-the-track injury today! Did she fall off? Or was this another suicide attempt? I hope people do not make a habit of this. It is traumatic for train operators, a resource and time drain for BART, and a huge inconvenience for all of us passengers.

Woman struck by BART train - Chronicle Staff ReportFriday, August 25, 2006
(08-25) 11:12 PDT DALY CITY -- The Daly City BART station has reopened after being shut down while rescue workers freed a woman from beneath a train this morning.
The woman was rescued around 10:30 a.m. and transported to San Francisco General Hospital. Officials had no information on the extent of her injuries.
The station reopened at 10:54 a.m., spokesman Jim Allison said. However, at 11 a.m., trains headed from Daly City to the East Bay and the Peninsula were experiencing 15-minute delays.
Allison said a train operator reported a person under the train at 9:45 a.m., and power to the electrified third rail was turned off.
The victim initially was reported to be a young girl, but after she was rescued, it turned out that she is a woman in her 30s.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Please always get up for a very pregnant woman!

This morning's ride was more crowded than usual. Needless to say, the seats were long gone and even standing room was in short supply. At Rockridge, a very pregnant woman walks in. All the handicapped seats were taken in the area: 3 were occupied by seniors, 1 by a blind person, and the other two, a young man dressed up as if he's going to an interview trying to not make eye-contact with the pregnant woman and a 30-something woman pretending she didn't see this pregnant woman. I was way back in the end of the cart, uncomfortably standing between 2 men, but hoping one of the two younger seated passengers would stand up for this woman who was loosing her balance.

Out of all the other seated passengers in the train, no one bothered to give up their seat! It was so rude and inconsiderate. How can anyone not know she's pregnant and could really use a seat? What if she falls? I don't want to have any double standards but how could the able-bodied men sitting around her not have the courtesy to get up?? The women should have too!

Anyhow, finally, the train emptied out a bit at 12th Street Oakland and an older woman held an open seat for this pregnant lady.

It was disturbing to me although it doesn't surprise me. I know we live in a society where women demand the same rights and opportunities as men but I consider certain things common courtesy and will raise my future son, if I have one, to honor them. For example, always give up their seat to females, hold the door for females, give up a taxi to a female hailing a cab too....etc.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

No excuse to complain about the 35+ min. delay! Two found under BART trains!

Before I found out exactly what was causing the 35+ minute delays this afternoon, I was absolutely pissed off at BART staff and the poor communication we received at Civic Center on why the "medical emergencies" at Union City and West Oakland were taking that long to fix, and why one announcement says West Oakland is reopened, but another right after contradicts it and says the station will be reopened in a few moments....yet after a "few moments", all trains still remain in holding pattern for 20 minutes longer?

I was in a rush to get home today to bring my dog to the vet before the clinic closes. I was in a mad rush to return home that I actually took a taxi to the Civic Center station instead of waiting for the company shuttle.

Of course I get there and I see the Dublin Pleasanton train being held with doors open. We had no news for 5 minutes, then "medical emergencies" update for 10 minutes, followed by 20 more minutes of contradictory announcements about when the trains will resume. Then, once it finally starts to move, it was stop and go the whole way, while stopping at each station for longer than usual periods of time due to passengers in line trying to crowd in when there is no room.

The train operator warns, "Doors are closing, stay clear of the doors" but people still stand right in the middle, some even go as far as reaching their hands in to pry it open...holding up the train even longer and making my poor dog wait for me at home!

My 30 min ride turned into 65 minutes of misery. I was angry that the ambulances (this is before finding out the real reason) could not just take the sick passenger off the trains and let the rest of the trains move on! I've seen a couple "medical emergencies" in the past on my trains and they were NOT emergencies by any means.

Finally, I get home and barely had enough time to take my dog to the vet. I return from the vet to find out that two different individuals were found under different trains today: one dead at the scene and one uninjured. CRAZY!!!

After reading that, I am not angry anymore, although I must say I was greatly inconvenienced under the special circumstances today. I wonder if the dead victim the result of a suicide attempt? And what compelled the uninjured woman to get on the tracks with a train coming??
Did she fall? I see passengers who don't stay behind the yellow line and love to cut across people lining up in back of it. I do that sometimes when stuck behind a slow-walking person. I can't help it, I like to move fast. I guess if someone I offend decides to push me off, I could easily end up on the tracks too.

Anyhow, after finding out the real reasons of the delays, I've decided to change the tone of my post completely. I guess these are real emergencies under all definitions and perspectives.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Perky Train Operator

Every so often, I ride in a train with an operator who is extra perky and animated. By that I mean he or she will announce "good morning" and "welcome" at every stop, give us a forecast of the week, wish us a relaxing ride, some will even comment on the view or count down the remaining hours left until weekend. Once I even had a train operator who pointed out some 'landmarks' to tourists.

I generally don't have a problem with perkiness over the microphone. It's a pleasant change from train operators who mumble inaudibly each station name. Sometimes it could get a little irritating when they go overboard with the comedic entertainment, I mean, seriously, this is not a Southwest flight, we don't need people to hum us a tune.

Today, one passenger must have been extremely grumpy and not pleased with the way his day started out....he was just overly angered by every comment the train operator made over the microphone. She said, "Good morning everyone! Welcome to BART on this Monday morning." He would yell out, "Shut up!" Later she announces, "Looks like we will have another warm week in the East Bay." He said, "Damn it- just do your job!"

This went on the entire ride to SF!

I don't love the extra commentary but it's nothing that horrible to get so mad and annoyed over. At the worst, I just roll my eyes and keep reading. Why the rude and pissed off comments?

On a side note, school started again it seems as BART parking lots and trains were more crowded than usual. more seats for me I guess.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Part Two - "Follow me, kids!"

Last Friday, I wrote the entry, "Follow me, kids", after I saw a mother, leading her 4 kids through the side handicapped door, without paying fare. The comments and emails have been great-- showing that fare skipping is really a big problem and frankly, the agents need to be a bit more vigilant about enforcing basic rules and actually look UP instead of down for a change.

After that post, I started to look around a lot more carefully at people when entering the ticket gates. I see bikers going straight from the parking lot through the swinging side doors without going back to pay. I see mothers pushing babies in strollers straight through the swinging side doors without going back to pay. I see passengers who walk across the swinging side door without blinking or looking like they've done anything wrong. It is common- way too common- and extremely disturbing that agents don't care or notice!

Although I said something back to the mother with 4 kids last Friday, I didn't say anything to these other folks this week for various reasons. Distance is one, but also, I shouldn't be the one enforcing the rules or putting them to shame!

I must say the same thing again- why are the station agents (in the glass booths) always looking down? what are they looking at? are they reading a magazine? playing crossword puzzles? Must be something very enticing and interesting because when I actually do need assistance and stand right in front of them, it takes them quite a long time to notice that I am standing right there!

Why don't they actually look around them? I bet if they did, within 30 minutes, they would catch a fare skipper!

Most of us are paying a handsome fee to ride BART! Nearly $40 a week, in fact, if I ride daily! Everyone should follow rules, and those who don't, should be told to and fined!

Please, BART management, do something about this!

European Tourists Abound

I love seeing tourists around SF. I'm not being sarcastic- I personally love to travel and appreciate natives who are polite and helpful.

In the past few weeks, I've noticed an abundance of European tourists around the Civic Center Bart Station/ Market&8th. I've also seen tour buses crowding the corner, picking loads and loads of passengers up from that hotel (Ramada I think?) on Market, between 8th and 9th.

The first thing that comes to mind when I see these tourists...why are they staying at this hotel? In this depressed area? I constantly see the tourists' faces when they walk into the many pee puddles around the block or when they get a big whiff of the after-scent of the many homeless folks inhabiting in the area. I see the parents grasping onto their kids whenever a homeless person approaches them. I hear them complaining that there are no places to get breakfast around there except the lone Starbucks. Occasionally, one of them will ask one of us waiting for the company shuttle whether there is anything to see in the area within 30 minutes, before their organized tour begins. Sadly, we have to say "not really, not within this immediate vicinity."

That area is really not the best representation of this beautiful city. Granted, all those city buildings and concert halls on Van Ness are just 4 or 5 blocks away and are absolutely gorgeous, but Market/8th is really not the most tourist-friendly area. Why didn't they stay near Fisherman's Wharf? Union Square? Nob Hill? or even the Financial District where they could take the cable car around easily? Why the Civic Center BART Station?

So why ARE they staying there??!! My guess is they probably didn't do extensive research online and was lured by the hotel rate. Or perhaps they had no choice because the organized tour they arrived with has a deal with this particular Ramada.

I wonder what they must think of the city if what they see around them in between the tours, is this depressed, dirty and sometimes threatening scenery. But then again, after seeing the wharf, bridges and other sites in the Bay Area, I think they will become forgiving of their immediate surroundings.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Do I have to shake your hand?

Funny thing happened today on my way to work. During the smooth and ontime BART ride (always appreciate this rarity), I noticed a man suffering from a bad cold or a bad case of allergies. He was sneezing nonstop. He was polite enough to cover his nose up with his hands each time he let out a sneeze.

He got out at Civic Center station, like me, and was a few steps ahead of me on the escalator. During his walk up, he sneezed again. I remember thinking as I moved along the escalator that I'm probably passing his floating germs right now. The point being...his nonstop sneezing made an impression in my mind.

As I got to the company shuttle pick-up, I noticed he was there too. Oh, does he work in my company too? I thought to myself...I guess I've never see him before. An acquaintance of mine walked towards me at that point and said hello to me and also the sneezing man. He then asked me, "Have you met ****? He recently joined the company in the ***** team."

The sneezing man took his hand out as we are introduced. I was thinking, "Oh my gosh, what am I going to do? I don't want to touch his hand. I know his hands have been covered in saliva and mucus the past half an hour!" I tried my best to quickly think of an excuse to tie-up my hands...maybe I can pretend it is stuck in a pocket? Or maybe I can pretend I'm holding a heavy bag and can't move it? Whatever I thought of, I couldn't really act on it within that 1 second of time that I had before it seemed like his handshake was unanswered for way too long.

Alas, I gave in. I couldn't make up a believable excuse fast enough. I shook his hand like any normal person would. I figured this probably happens ALL the time especially at tradeshows and weddings, besides, I have Purell in my bag that I can use afterwards.

I had to refrain myself from popping out my hand sanitizer during the 5-minute shuttle ride since he was in the shuttle too. Once I got to work, I washed my hands thoroughly.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Follow me, kids!

This doesn't surprise me at all. It's very common on BART, but since we have posted a few comments regarding this very problem, thought I should share what I saw today.

At the Civic Center Station, a mom, with 4 kids, were approaching the BART ticketing entrance.

The oldest kid, a boy about 7 or 8, goes directly to the ticket gate and asks, "Mom, how do we get in here?" The woman answers, "No, ***, you get over here, follow me, we're going this way."

She then proceeds to the side handicapped swing door and directs her children to walk that way. All five of them got onto the ticketing platform this way. This took place about 12 feet from the station agent sitting inside the glass window.

Frankly, I was pretty disgusted. It's because of people like that the rest of us have to pay around $8 roundtrip daily to get to work and back.

I said to her loudly, "You forgot to pay." Being at least 8 feet from me, she conveniently ignored me and went on to board her train.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

How safe are we on BART?

A bit of a more serious thought today. Since news of the liquid gel explosive broke, I've been doing a lot of thinking and questioning.

The BART Police were doing random train walk-throughs today with bomb sniffing dogs, causing the trains to pause for at least 3-5 minutes. I was glad to hear that and didn't mind the delay, but is that enough to protect everyone should there be a plot to attack the system? And why does it always take a scare to get everyone (internationally, not just here) back to the level of awareness that we should constantly have? Are we being too reactive? Do we need more "events" to realize terrorism is not a traditional enemy? (**Please, this is not meant to stir a political debate at all. These are just some thoughts and questions that came to mind**)

BART passengers see signs around the station and trains asking us to stay alert and watch out for suspicious packages, but can we count on self-enforcement to keep us from danger? What exactly makes a bag suspicious? What if the source of harm is not actually left unattended but being carried onto the train by a paying passenger?

I'm not sure how much more BART can do to protect passengers. They could install detectors at the entrance, but can they detect explosives? Don't think so. Or, BART Police (with trained canines) can stand by the entrance to randomly inspect passengers, but that could lead to a whole new debate about privacy infringement and racial profiling in this politically charged SF Bay Area.

I don't expect there to be any new initiatives to protect BART passengers beyond what is already being done because the politics make everything reactive around here.

I am not fearful on BART and have not felt unsafe as a passneger (well, not due to terrorism at least, but have definitely felt unsafe due to homeless and drunks). These are just some thoughts on my mind.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Got bumped by a bike today

Are people supposed to carry their bike up on the escalator? I thought they were supposed to use the stairs or the elevator. It seems awfully crowded and dangerous to have a bike on a packed up-escalator!

Granted, the woman, extremely thin and frail-looking, was doing her best to carry the bike at shoulder-level to avoid bumping into crowds. I kept my distance from her the best I could...about 3 escalator steps behind her. I was getting nervous watching her because I could tell her arms were getting tired and the bike was swinging back and forth as her arms started to lower.

Suddenly, she took a step down on the escalator to help keep her balance, but the bike swung backwards anyways and she ended up right in front of me. One of her bike tires hit my face as a result. I was expecting it to happen....I knew at some point she would not be able to keep the bike above her shoulders. There were passengers riding the escalator behind me, so I couldn't take more steps back to protect myself.

It didn't hurt much. I was more concerned with the tires being dirty than hurting my face. She was so apologetic and having such a tough time with her bike that I felt too sorry for her to yell at her!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Rough start to my morning

Mondays are always tough, but today it was more difficult than usual for me to get out of bed. I pounded the snooze button more times than I could keep track of during my sleepy state and suddenly, it was very late! I had just a few minutes to get ready, drive, park and get on the train. I jammed my usual 20 minute routine (darn good for a female) into half the amount of time and rushed to the BART station.

As soon as I got there, my neck started feeling uncomfortable. It seemed like my collar is unusually high and making my neck a little tight and itchy. I looked down, and realized that I wore my long-sleeve top backwards! I was trying to convince myself that I could get away with it because by then, I didn't have a place to swap back to front. It was pretty obvious that the shirt was on backwards with the fabric jammed and gathered at the neck, the label printed right there, and the stitching of the label tag clearly visible right under my eyes.

As I got up to the platform, I saw that the train was 9 minutes late. Well, I figured if I'm going to miss my shuttle pick-up anyways, I might as well take a chance, go to the BART station restroom and make my outfit a little more comfortable, during this extra wait time that BART has given me.

I don't like public restrooms but I do use them when necessary. The only other BART restroom I've tried was Lafayette and it was quite clean for a public restroom, a B+ in my rating system. I thought Lafayette and Orinda are pretty similar cities, I'm sure the Orinda restroom is just as clean. So, I took a chance and walked in. Oh boy....I found puddles of bright yellow urine splattered everywhere and the room smelled like smoke and pee. I guess since no one follows the "No Food or Drinks" sign BART posts, why would people follow the "No Smoking" sign! Horrible combination of odors. Unlike the Lafayette public restroom, the Orinda one warrants a D+ at best in my rating system.

Thank goodness I didn't have to use the facilities, I just needed a place to fix my shirt. I had a large computer bag filled with folders and a purse. I had no space anywhere to place the bags down! The sink had ashes all over, and there was no way I would let my bags touch the ground! So with no place to settle my bags, it took me awhile to get my shirt to the ride side while holding 2 bags (1 heavy!). During this juggling of shirt and bags, I stepped into a puddle of urine. I had a pair of superflat sandals that gave me only 1/2 a centimeter of protection between the ground and my feet. I had to wipe off the ashes on the sink so I could wash my feet, and then, I poured the rest of my Purell onto them. Thank goodness, I had the foresight to roll up my jeans before I walked in, a trick I learned because of my experiences at the Civic Center Station.

Well, I did it and I made it onto the train in time. I guess Orinda doesn't keep up as well as Lafayette station. I don't even want to imagine what the Civic Center station restroom is like and hopefully I will never have to find out!

Friday, August 04, 2006

why crowd next to me on an empty train?

On a fairly empty Concord bound train this afternoon, I thought I would have the luxury of getting two seats to myself. As we approached Embarcadero from Civic Center, the train still had many empty seats, and I thought I would be free to stretch my tired arms and sit comfortably across 2 seats. But, a larger, very hairy and totally sweating older man walked in, and decided to take the seat next to me even though the train was about 40% empty.

Why oh why did he have to choose this seat?? I smelled him immediately: his sweat, his hair, his unwashed clothes (smelled like a dirty closet) and his breath! I was miserable and wanted to get up to change a seat. But I realized that it would really be a huge production for him to have to stand up, grab his things and move aside for me, and if he didn't do that and instead just expected me to walk over him, it would be extremely unpleasant for my body to have to touch his. So, I decided to just suck it up for 25 minutes.

It wasn't easy. He coughed a lot, his sweaty left arms touched my dry and clean right arm several times, and worst of all, I caught him violently scratching his big wart on his face.

Finally, I was at my station. And I was right, it did take him a long long time to allow me to exit my seat. I almost missed the door.

Glad the weekend is here!

A public conversation

There was actually a brief entertainment program on BART today. The train operator apparently did not know his microphone was on and was chatting up with a friend. The conversation was a little embarrassing for the train operator since details of his love life was divulged to the rest of us. I felt a little guilty listening (post-publish comment: I didn't feel THAT guilty...more awkwards than guilty) but had no choice since it was broadcasted throughout the train.

Here's the conversation- probably not the exact words but close.

Train Operator (TO): Hey, where've you been?
Friend (F): You know, just around.
TO: Where you heading?
F: Got a job interview in the city. Whatevers. What have you been up to?
TO: Nothing much.
F: You still dating that guy? What's his name, ****?
TO: No, we went out a couple times and he never called me back.
F: Didn't go too well?

That was it. Maybe he realized that his mike was on, or his friend had to run, but the conversation ended there, leaving us to wonder why his date never returned his call and how things are going now.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What do you think of BART's "thank you" banner ads?

If you ride BART daily, I'm sure you've noticed the "thank you" BART ads around the trains. One of them says (can't remember the exact words), "Thank you, sleeping behind your sunglasses riders," and another says, "Thank you, first ride of your life riders." I think there are a couple others, although I can't remember them ride now.

I think they are a bit corny but not close to being as bad as the SF Giants' "It's your Giants" radio and TV ads (side note: speaking of the Giants, depressing 9 straight losses. I hope we release Benitez to make a statement, waste the millions who cares, just rid the cancer). I know that BART is trying to express appreciation with humor, but I remember thinking these two ads that I've seen do not actually directly relate to me and frankly, slightly lame.

BART should have ads that thank those of us who know to walk on the left and stand on the right, those of us who have tickets ready in hand BEFORE we approach the gate, those of us who actually make a point to get up for seniors and handicapped, those of us who ride BART the next day despite horrible delays the day before, those of us who recycle newspaper in the proper bin instead of leaving them on the train, those who pay daily for parking, and those of us who write/comment about BART!! :)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Debris on track causing 30+ minutes delay

I was stuck in another long delay today. As soon as I approached that BART station, I knew it was bad news since a train was held there with the doors wide open.

Apparently, the delay was caused by debris on one of the tracks between Rockridge and Lafayette, thus trains were operating on one track only. I didn't think it would take that long, but a 15 minutes delay announcement turned into 30.

How long does it take to remove debris? Why does it take over 30 minutes? I'm sure there is a lot more work involved than I'm thinking of. Is it more than just getting a crew there to remove the coverboard or whatever it was out of the track and get the trains running normally again?

Needless to say, I was not in a chipper mood once I arrived at Civic Center station. I barely made the very last shuttle pick-up. However, I did see an adorable little pug being walked by his owner on the street today which cheered me up!!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Mid-Day BART riders

Since I take BART to work, I get in around 9 and leave around 5:30 or so. In the few occasions that I leave during the day, I usually take my car. That said, my recent encounter during a mid-day BART ride was a bit scary, but not surprising, based on what I've heard and read from everyone.

I had to leave work early to take care of family matters. When I arrived at the Civic Center Station (street level), I noticed immediately that the staircase and surrounding area was occupied by at least 40-50 homeless folks. They were up and about, chatting, laughing, throwing things at each other, or screaming profanities at pedestrians or in some cases, no body. It was a little frightening to walk between them, while cautiously trying to not disrupt their game of catch with an empty bottle and another game of soccer with an empty beer can. On the other hand, I now know what homesless people do in the day time! They have fun and socialize.

When I got down to boarding platform, I noticed more homeless people sleeping and saw a few drunks passed out on the floor. I guess it is cooler inside the station than napping outside under the scorching sun. Who can blame them? I just wonder how they got in?

Once the train arrived, they woke up and joined me in the short 4 car train. My car was fairly empty: me, a few culinary school students in uniform, and them. The drunk men walked in and both found their own 4-seater area to sleep on. One of them kicked some old newspaper out of his way, missed, and almost fell down. He then screamed out an assorment of cuss words while kicking the seat in anger. The other drunk man was already back asleep by this time. He was about 2 rows from me, and I could smell the alcohol.

A few homeless folks also were on the train with me. One immediately walked up and down the trains to ask for money. I didn't feel like reaching for my wallet, but he stood in front of me and kept on asking! To get away from his smell, I ended up giving him all my change. The other homeless folks just slept. One stuck his bare feet out in the aisle.....I sure wish I had a pair of socks to give him, for my sake and his.

It was just interesting to me how different the riders are during the day time! How do they get in? Are they going anywhere? Seems like they just hopped on to sleep or ask for money.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The 1-minute sprint

I've mentioned several times now that I actually connect to a company shuttle at the Civic Center BART station and if BART arrives ontime, I have about 5-minutes before the shuttle arrives. Usually, I have about 3-minutes, which is totally enough time for me to leisurely walk up the two flights of escalators, and across the street to the 8th/Market corner.

Today, I had less than 1 minute to get to the shuttle stop. BART was stop and go the entire way and I was mentally (not quite physically) prepared for an impending 50-second dash once the door opens.

As we approached Civic Center station, I positioned myself 2 inches from the door to get a head start. Once the door opened, I ran. I zipped through people like a motorcycle steering in between cars; shifting right, left and back to right. I ran up the first escalator and cut across slower walkers in front of me...every second counted at this point. My ticket was ready in hand as usual and I made sure I was first to the ticket gate. I sprinted to the 2nd escalator, and saw that there were too many people walking/standing on the escalator so I decided to ran up the stairs. Because I had flats on today, I was able to skip up 2 steps with each step, to make up precious time.

I was really running out of steam by the time I got up there and thought that the shuttle had probably left by now, and I might as well just slow down and look forward to another 15 minutes at Starbucks to pass time. But, there it was.....the white shuttle, with its left turn signal on, just about to leave the stop. I got an extra burst of energy, and ran with all that's left in me across the street. Right as the driver was about to step on the gas, I arrived at the door.

My hard work paid off....I made it. I was huffing and panting from this morning workout, but of course I had to keep my cool once I got in the shuttle. People were already annoyed at me that the driver had to re-open the door and stop the shuttle for me, I certainly didn't want them to snicker at my out of control breathing patterns. So, I tried my best to hold it in, pretending that I made it on the shuttle like any normal person, and took out my Treo, like I normally would.

Inside my head however, I was ecstatic that I beat the clock! I know...ridiculous, but if I had missed the shuttle, I would have had to wait miserably for 15 more minutes while becoming even more bitter about BART.